Gain an insight into what people aren’t saying with these common body language cues.
Article I consulted for regarding Body Language Cues.
Ever wished you could read someone’s mind?
Well, we can’t really help you there (sorry) but what we can do is help give you an insight into what people are thinking and not saying based on their body language.
Remember that TV show Lie to Me or ever marvelled at the ‘all- knowing’ Sherlock Holmes? They know what they know because they read body language.
Psychologist, Clare Mann and Counselling Psychotherapist, Dr Karen Phillip help you crack the mystery of what’s really going on inside other people’s heads by understanding what their body language and facial expressions are trying to tell you.
Strap yourself in, here we go.
How to tell if someone likes you
If someone likes you, they’ll use friendly, open body language cues. This includes smiling, making consistent eye contact, keeping their arms by their side and leaning forward when speaking to you.“They’ll look at you, then look away, before looking back again and smiling. They do this to get your attention and gauge your response before approaching you,” psychotherapist Dr Karen Phillip explains.
Smiling’s one of the clearest signs of attraction, so learn how to spot a fake. The best way to pick a phoney smile is to look for the absence of crow’s feet or if bottom teeth are visible.
A true smile will usually result in semi-closed eyes as well as exposed top teeth. People will also try to close the distance between you and them.
“You may find they start mirroring your body movements and breathing rate. This is called match-and-mirror,” Dr Phillip says.
How to tell if someone’s afraid
If someone’s really scared, they may display subtle changes in their facial expression, usually affecting their eyes, eyebrows and mouth. Or it could be something more overt, such as raising their hands in front of their face.
Hiding behind a barrier is a normal response we learn during childhood to protect ourselves.
“Someone may stand behind someone else, slightly shielding themselves,” Karen says.
The arm-crossing gesture can also be an attempt to block a perceived threat.
People who are fearful may also avoid making direct eye contact. Instead, they may look at the floor, at their hands or at their surroundings. Alternatively, they may gaze at you with a wide-eyed stare.
“Other non-verbal signs to watch for include shoulders rolled forward, feet pointing away from you and fast and shallow breathing,” she says.
Fearful body language is often and easily misinterpreted as anxiety, nervousness or even aggression.
How to tell if someone is anxious
Anxiety is one of the emotions that can’t be identified by a single body language signal; rather it’s a conglomeration of factors coming together at once.
Some red flags include persistent fingernail biting, fidgeting, finger tapping, sweating and whistling. Shoulders may also appear slouched, which is a sign of stress, and the person may struggle to find the right words to say, which can result in avoiding interactions altogether.
When trying to make sense of other people’s behaviour, psychologist Clare Mann says there are four categories of emotions to remember: glad, sad, bad and mad.
“When someone’s anxious or upset, they tend to show more bad behaviours because there’s more pent-up energy behind their emotions,” she reveals. “They can appear more aggressive than upset, which is an avoidance technique.”
Don’t immediately assume the behaviour has anything to do with you. Instead, Clare advises using friendly body language towards someone showing these signs to help them feel more at ease. ￼someone’s guarded “Closed body language signals, such as folded arms, are classic signs of someone who’s taking a guarded stance or is on the defensive,” Clare says. It reveals an insecurity or hostile attitude.
There are various ways to fold your arms: with clenched fists, arms crossed tightly or loosely, or clutching arms. Each gesture projects defensiveness, but on a different scale.
The double-arm grip indicates someone isn’t buying what you’re selling. It’s characterised by the person’s hands tightly gripping their upper arms to reinforce themselves and avoid exposure. It’s commonly seen in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms. Karen says this creates an artificial barrier to help people feel more secure.
She says, “Other classic signs that may suggest someone is shielding themselves include less direct eye contact, feet pointed towards an exit and not matching your body language at all.”
How to tell is ￼someone is lying
A lack of eye contact may seem like a telltale sign that someone is telling you a fib, but according to Clare, it’s not necessarily always the case. Too much eye contact could also be a warning sign that you’re not getting the whole story.
“Sometimes people who are lying try to avoid eye contact in an attempt to evade being caught out, but they may also overcompensate to appear more genuine. Either way, their behaviour will appear markedly different to how it usually is,” she says.
They may also glance away while leaning back, blink more often, cover their mouth, stammer or touch their arms or their nose.
Dr Phillip says people who cross their arms or legs, continually twitch or keep their feet pointed away from you while speaking may also have some sort of hidden agenda.
Dishonest people may think they’re in control but more often than not the effect of adrenalin running through their body makes it obvious they’re trying to hide something.
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